BOE approves ‘cursive first’


By Chelsea
McNerney-Martinez
CREEDE— Cursive writing will again be a part of Creede’s curriculum, as the “cursive first” philosophy was adopted at the Tuesday, Aug. 28 Creede School Board meeting. In addition, a discussion regarding the potential of a school resource officer and the hiring of Superintendent Lis Richard as the assistant girls basketball coach occurred.
Richard presented an update on the district’s consideration of a school resource officer (SRO), noting she met with Sheriff Fred Hosselkus who doesn’t believe that an SRO is a viable option with the county budget, but suggested rates for the department and the school board to develop an MOU. The Mineral County Sheriff’s Office is willing to provide a deputy for a law enforcement presence at random times on campus for two hours per day at a rate of $30/hour plus sporting and other special events for an additional $60/week. The board will work on an MOU with the department and will be applying for a grant to help cover the costs.
In addition, Board President Damon Gibbons presented a potential proposal to have Richard be the assistant girls’ basketball coach.
Gibbons noted he was bringing the matter up publicly because of misconceptions in the public after being approached by a citizen stating “Are you ok with Lis Richard appointing herself as assistant basketball coach?” Gibbons explained the head coach, Steve Anderson, had anticipated issues with having two male coaches on a women’s team and looked at female candidates who had previously expressed interest, and found out Richard has previous coaching experience and played basketball in college and recommended her as a candidate. After much consideration Richard stated she could handle the extra work.
Gibbons added “She did not appoint herself, she was asked by the head coach who recommended her.”
Some community members in attendance expressed discomfort with the proposal, including Creede resident Raymond Kemper who stated he has heard from some of the girls on the team who feel they address a superintendent and a coach in different ways and anticipate issues arising from the dual roles.
Leggitt also stated there was an accountability issue with Richard holding both roles. Board Treasurer Kassidy Mankowski stated she believed the dual roles “helps bridge the gap” for students to see her as a dynamic individual who can fit both roles and would respect her more. Mankowski also pointed out Creede has had previous administrators and coaches. Anderson also noted that he has the final say as the head coach when it comes to team decisions.
Gibbons emphasized the role of the school board in determining policy, not making decisions about coaching and noted the school’s policy stated the principal, athletic director and personnel director make head coach hiring decisions, and the head coach is also involved in a similar process for assistant coaches.
Gibbons also stated the board’s role is to do what is best for building the athletic program in the long term, not to look for short-term remedies, and he is concerned that every year in the future will be compared to the season the superintendent was a coach. Robinson agreed with Gibbons, adding the community should be canvassed and applications accepted for an assistant coach and if Richard is the most qualified candidate the board could readdress the matter.
Richard also presented on three parts of the elementary curriculum, noting the first— the health education program— has been presented to parents at a public meeting and no concerns were brought up, although one family has selected to remove their child from the sex-ed portion of the curriculum. The elementary teachers also selected the Saxon Math curriculum which helps with their goals of vertical alignment.
Lastly, Richard gave a presentation on the “cursive first” method, bringing several articles and other research documents to support her presentation. Richard explained cursive writing is more natural for children and their motor skills development, and if children learn cursive in kindergarten before they learn manuscript printing, they are better readers and writers later on.
Richards stated the highest performing states in the state and nation are cursive first schools and it reduces the number of students with reading processing issues later on. After their motor skills are more developed, it’s easier for children’s brains to learn to print. There were several other scientifically proven reasons for the cursive first method, and Richard suggested adopting it in Creede, noting she has seen it also bring in enrollment in other school districts.
Brittain asked how the students would catch up, with Richard explaining they would be provided with extra support through second grade, but after third grade it’s too punishing to students to make them unlearn a method and relearn methods. The motion to support the cursive first philosophy passed unanimously.  
The board also heard from Director of Finance & Human Resources Sherry Scallan, who stated the school is currently at 101 students.


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